Eating the Bangladeshi Way

Fish plus rice equals Bengali, according to one proverb, although there are many other favourite dishes. A typical Bangladeshi meal includes a curry of fish, meat, eggs or vegetables cooked in a spicy sauce, plus yellow lentils called dhal and plain rice or bhat. Spicy kebabs or a meatball and gravy dish known as kofta are popular, as are warm thin flat breads called chapati.

Most ingredients for Bangladeshi food are readily available in Canadian cities. Muslims are forbidden to eat pork and may need to examine food labels to ensure that processed foods are free of pork products. Bangladeshis may wish to find a halal meat store where the meat is butchered and prepared according to Islamic religious guidelines.

Drinking alcohol is also prohibited by religious rules. Sweet milky tea known as chai is popular. Cold drinks include fresh lime sodas and tender coconut water, otherwise known as dub.

Bangladeshi food is often eaten with the fingers. Village people tend to eat that way. Middle-class urban people may or may not use cutlery. It is considered polite and a mark of respect to use the right hand when giving or receiving anything, particularly food. You might hold a glass of water with your left hand, or use both hands to break bread, but food goes into your mouth from your right hand only.

Local desserts are a dream for those with a sweet tooth. Many are creamy, laced with sugar and flavoured with nuts, saffron or cinnamon. One of the most popular is a sweet rice pudding called kheer. A Bangladeshi family would prepare this treat for holidays or to welcome guests on a special occasion. Generally speaking, rural people may follow traditional customs more closely and middle-class city people may interpret them more liberally. It is important to be sensitive to your Bangladeshi friends.



1 L homogenized milk
250 gm basmati rice
500 gm brown sugar
125 gm raisins
Dashes of white cardamom


Place rice in colander and rinse with cold water. Bring milk and rice to boil in heavy saucepan. Simmer, tightly covered, for 25 minutes. Add sugar and cardamom. Cool slightly and serve.